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Deformed chicks. Need information and advice please.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Shikens!, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Shikens!

    Shikens! Chirping

    May 2, 2011
    I am absolutely infuriated.

    This is going to be a long post so I am sorry for that in advance. I have been hesitant about posting anything about this experience at all but after yesterdays events I don't feel like I have a choice as I really need help! I am a first time chicken owner. I ordered 12 Blue Laced Red Wyandotte chicks from a breeder in early May. I paid what I think is a lot of money, $7 each. This breeder was recommended to me by a highly reputable breeder so I trusted that I would be getting good quality, healthy chicks.

    I chose to go with a breeder because of some of the health issues I had read about people experiencing when ordering from big hatcheries. I also wanted my Wyandottes to look like they were supposed to.

    I received a call from the breeder on June 6th telling me that they could send my order but it would not be the 12 day olds I ordered. They only had 10 day olds and they would "throw in" 5 free 3 week old birds. I could take this or I could wait 2 more weeks. They gave me about 5 minutes to decide as she had to get to the post office within the hour. So, I took it.

    When my birds arrived all 15 were alive but 2 of the day olds had severely deformed legs and feet. Their ankle bones were turned in at a right angle to the leg and I could not straighten the leg bones without the chicks screaming in pain. Making shoes wasn't an option. They could not walk. This means they couldn't get to food, water or heat. On my first day as a chicken owner I had to hold 2 helpless baby chicks and snap their necks. This is something I don't feel like I should have had to do! I paid good money for healthy birds. I realize that culling is something every chicken owner will one day have to face but this does not seem right.

    I emailed the breeder very nicely and told her the situation. (paraphrasing) She was very short and told me that it was from piling during shipping and that she is glad I still have at least the 12 birds that I ordered. No apology, no nothing. The email came off to me that she was only interested in making sure I wasn't asking for a refund for the 2 culled birds, which I wasn't.

    I decided to just forget about it and enjoy my new babies.

    About 3 days later after my older birds have settled in I realize that one of them has a deformed toe. I thought it was broken at first so I examined it. The second joint in the toe is simply not there. I can hold the tip of the toe and rotate half of the toe around 360 degrees. The end of the toe just flops around when the bird walks. I am fairly sure if it was a toe that had broken and healed that the bones would be fused in some way and the toe would be rigid. Either way I don't feel like the breeder should have sent me this bird.

    Now we are going to fast forward to yesterday afternoon. I have 8 baby chicks left and they turned 2 weeks old today. I took them outside to play in my enclosed run while the older chicks were locked in the hen house. 7 of the chicks ran around playing as normal and one chick refused to walk. I picked it up and it laid limp in my hand. I felt it's crop and it was totally empty. I rushed it inside and fed it electrolytes and egg yolks. Once the chick gained some energy and stood up I realized there is something really wrong with it.

    The chick has trouble walking. It limps around like it's drunk. It's holding it's right wing funny. I inspected it and it looks like there is some type of bone deformity between it's right wing and it's neck. There is a bald spot and a bulbous area where I can see a bone poking up into the skin. I moved the chicks legs and wings around and felt all over and it's not in any pain so I don't think it's an injury.

    Now I am livid. I am scared to death that several of my chicks have internal deformities that will start to affect them as they grow. I am also really upset because my original plan was to sell off all my extra chicks and keep only 3-5 hens. I don't feel like it is ethical for me to sell any of these chicks not knowing what could be wrong with them.

    I have been in tears since yesterday thinking about the possibility of having to cull another chick. I am hesitant to email the breeder again because she was so uncaring before I feel like it will do nothing but start a fight and I'm not interested in having a pissing contest.

    Someone please help me. How likely is it that all my new birds are going to have problems? What am I supposed to do with my extra birds at this point? I am totally new to chickens and I thought I had my bases covered.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011

  2. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Songster

    I'm really sorry you ended up dealing with an unscrupulous breeder. [​IMG] [​IMG] My first fear is that the chick who has a droopy wing sounds like it's showing signs of Marek's. Not to freak you out further but isolate that chick or cull it. For it to be showing signs like that at this stage would scare me. At first I thought wry neck but some Mareks birds develop a kind of torticollis. The droopy wing and drunk like limp...pretty classic signs.

    I don't blame you for not contacting the breeder any more but if that person is sending out birds that are deformed or have Mareks...geez, you'd really want to stop them from continuing. (Without getting the sick chick tested not exactly sure what he's got but I'm pretty sure its no good).

    This is all really crappy, I'm so sorry for you and hope the rest of the birds are actually ok. I wish I had something brilliant to tell you, maybe someone else on here will. Best of luck with the remaining birds. [​IMG]
  3. Shikens!

    Shikens! Chirping

    May 2, 2011
    Quote:I read that the incubation period for Merek's is 4-12 weeks. This bird just turned 2 weeks old today. Is this significant? The chick in question is definitely showing several symptoms of Merek's. It's about half the size of the others. Sleeps all the time, and avoids walking whenever possible. Dropped wing and clumsy walking. I feel like this chick could just as easily have a deformity that is making it hard to get enough food and water. The nutritional deficiency from small amounts of food and water could be causing the sleeping and funny walk/droopy wing because it is tired an has no energy. I also feel like an internal deformity is more likely because 3 other birds have been deformed in my group of 15. This chick was shipped directly after hatching and I don't think Merek's is passed through the egg. The breeder would have to have had infected older birds somewhere near the area the incubator was in in order for this chick to have contracted Merek's.

    I isolated the chick but I don't see how that matters. If it's Merek's they all already have it. Even the older birds have been exposed to it.

    The little chick eats like crazy when I put him in his own box with egg yolk and electrolyte water. Then acts normal for an hour or so, then back to laying down acting super tired and depressed.

    I am trying to stay calm and collected and handle this situation intelligently but I feel like I am emotionally on the brink of totally loosing it.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  4. stargirl

    stargirl Songster

    Jun 15, 2011
    I'm sorry, I don't have any experience of this, just wanted to offer you a [​IMG]: and my sympathies. It's awful when something so wonderful turns so scary and upsetting. I think it's best to deal with your own situation first, then decide what to do with the breeder. Sometimes you only have so much head space to spare! xxx
  5. Erica

    Erica Songster

    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi Shikens!, I'm sorry you're going through such a bad patch.

    If the chicks are 2 weeks old, then you can probably rule out Marek's. A photo of the chick with the deformity will help people decide what's wrong. It may be an injury rather than a deformity, it's really hard to say and I'm having trouble picturing it in my head.

    I've got no idea about the missing toe-joint, but it does sound as though the toe may have been badly broken or dislocated — that would cause it to flop around. Do you think it could be worth splinting? I'd give that a go just to see if it helps, then if the toe won't heal straight, I'd look at amputating it to save future pain... [​IMG]

    If the other birds are eating well, active and growing well, then I feel there's no reason to suspect internal deformities. Sometimes the real issue is diet, not genetics, so as long as they're all on appropriate feed you're giving them the best chance to reach their genetic potential. You might feel happier giving them extra vitamins (particularly B vitamins).

    It doesn't sound like the breeder's response was very helpful at all, but I've noticed that some fairly odd people seem to get into the chicken raising thing... And some terrific people too! Don't let one experience sour you...

    Btw, I've bought sick chickens, and I've bought expensive fertile eggs that produced chicks with no eyelids (they had eyes but no break in the skin to see through, so I ended up with only 2 out of 12)... The breeder of those birds said it was my incubator (nope, it was either inbreeding or lack of vitamins in the breeder diet). But if all the remaining chicks you have are active, eating, etc, then I would assume they're going to be just fine. Life's best that way... [​IMG]

    best wishes
  6. silkieroo

    silkieroo Songster

    Apr 14, 2010
    Durham NH
    I'm so sorry about this!! What an awful first experience with chickens!! Please don't give up!! [​IMG]
  7. Shikens!

    Shikens! Chirping

    May 2, 2011
    Thanks for the hugs you guys.

    The small chicks hatched June 6th and I received them June 8th. I guess I could take a photo of the chick in question but I don't really want to. I don't know why, I just feel all discombobulated right now. I feel pretty confident it's not Merek's but something else wrong with it. I decided to put him back with the other chicks. They would all have it by now anyway and his dander is all over the brooder so isolation would be futile at this point. He acts happier when he is with the other chicks. He actually walks a little and eats a lot. When he is in his own box he gorges then sleeps and sleeps. He doesn't even peep or make any noise!

    I could splint the messed up toe on the older bird but there isn't anything to heal. There is no redness, swelling, nothing. The bird does not have a reaction at all when I touch the toe. I feel like a splint will just aggravate her and possibly cause her further problems.

    I hope that more problems do not present themselves as my chicks grow. Everyone except the tiny chick seems happy and are growing fast and doing chickeny things.

    Oh, they are all eating medicated starter.

  8. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Songster

    I did think it was too young for Mareks (thank goodness!). If you're thinking it's a vitamin deficiency, have you tried Enfamil's Poly-Vi-Sol vitamin (without Iron)?
  9. I-Have-Happy-Hens

    I-Have-Happy-Hens Songster

    Jun 16, 2010
    Carrboro, NC
    I am really sorry this has happened! what breeder if you do not mind ? Because I am looking into getting a BLRW and I would like to know which breeders to stay away from.


  10. Shikens!

    Shikens! Chirping

    May 2, 2011
    Quote:Sorry for the late reply. I got them from Blue Poultry.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011

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